Etymology
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wreck (n.)
early 13c., "goods cast ashore after a shipwreck, flotsam," from Anglo-French wrec, from a Scandinavian source akin to Old Norse *wrek "wreck, flotsam" (source also of Norwegian, Icelandic rek), related to reka "to drive, push," from Proto-Germanic *wrekan (see wreak (v.)). The meaning "a shipwreck" is first recorded mid-15c.; that of "a wrecked ship" is by c. 1500. General sense of "remains of anything that has been ruined" is recorded from 1713; applied by 1795 to dissipated persons. Compare wrack (v.).
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wreck (v.)
"to destroy, ruin," c. 1500, from wreck (n.). Earlier (12c.) it meant "drive out or away, remove;" also "take vengeance." Intransitive sense from 1670s. Related: Wrecked; wrecking.
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wreckage (n.)
1814, "fact of being wrecked," from wreck (v.) + -age. Meaning "remains of a wrecked thing" is from 1832.
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wrecker (n.)
1804, in reference to those who salvage cargos from wrecked ships, from wreck (n.). In Britain often with a overtones of "one who causes a shipwreck in order to plunder it" (1820); but in 19c. Bahamas and the Florida Keys it could be a legal occupation. Applied to those who wreck and plunder institutions from 1882. Meaning "demolition worker" attested by 1958. As a type of ship employed in salvage operations, from 1789. As a railway vehicle with a crane or hoist, from 1904.
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shipwreck (n.)
mid-15c., from ship (n.) + wreck (n.). Earlier it meant "things cast up from a shipwreck" (c. 1100). The earlier word for "shipwreck" in the modern sense was Middle English schipbreke, "'ship-break,'" from a North Sea Germanic word; compare West Frisian skipbrek, Middle Dutch schipbroke, German Schiffbruch, Old English scipgebroc. Old English scipbryce meant "right to claim goods from a wrecked ship."
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wrack (n.)
late 14c., "wrecked ship, shipwreck," probably from Middle Dutch wrak "wreck," from Proto-Germanic *wrakaz-, from root *wreg- "to push, shove, drive" (see wreak). The root sense perhaps is "that which is cast ashore." Sense perhaps influenced by Old English wræc "misery, punishment," and wrecan "to punish, drive out" (source of modern wreak). The meaning "damage, disaster, destruction" (in wrack and ruin) is from c. 1400, from the Old English word, but conformed in spelling to this one. Sense of "seaweed, etc., cast up on shore" is recorded from 1510s, probably an alteration of wreck (n.) in this sense (mid-15c.). Wrack, wreck, rack and wretch were utterly tangled in spelling and somewhat in sense in Middle and early modern English.
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shipwreck (v.)
1580s, "cause to wreck;" c. 1600, "to suffer shipwreck," from shipwreck (n.). Related: Shipwrecked.
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pile-up (n.)

"multi-vehicle crash," 1929, from verbal phrase pile up "to heap up" (c. 1400), which is attested from 1849 as "to accumulate," 1899 as "to wreck in a heap" (see pile (v.)).

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wrack (v.)

"to ruin or wreck" (originally of ships), 1560s, from earlier intransitive sense "to be shipwrecked" (late 15c.), from wrack (n.). Often confused in this sense since 16c. with rack (v.1) in the sense of "torture on the rack;" to wrack one's brains is thus erroneous. Related: Wracked; wracking.

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cream (v.)

mid-15c., "to foam, to froth," from cream (n.). From 1610s in figurative sense of "remove the best part of." Meaning "to beat, thrash, wreck" is 1929, U.S. slang; the exact sense connection is unclear. There was a slang cream (v.) in the 1920s that meant "cheat, deceive, especially by guile." Related: Creamed; creaming.

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